Tom Brady takes the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl next weekend, his 10th time getting to the big game, but his first as a member of a team not called the Patriots. Julio Cortez/Associated Press

When the Patriots drafted Tom Brady with the 199th overall pick in 2000, the quarterback admits he didn’t know his geography. In fact, the first question this kid from California asked was, “where’s New England?”

Imagine his confusion when his plane landed in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Brady admitted on Thursday that landing in Rhode Island only made him more perplexed. The quarterback can laugh about it now 21 years later. At this point, Brady is as synonymous with New England as the inconsistent weather.

Of course, a lot has changed over the past year. Brady resides in Tampa and is getting ready to play in Super Bowl LV with the Buccaneers. The 43-year-old is headed to his 10th Super Bowl, which adds to his legendary legacy. It’s created a situation that’s hard for Patriots fans to see – Brady having success in a different uniform while the Patriots finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs.

On Thursday, Brady looked back fondly at his time in New England while also admitting he’s happy to be on a new team with a new coach.

“I had an incredible 20 years. Really an incredible 20 years. I wouldn’t change anything over the course of 20 years. It was magical,” Brady said. “And all the relationships I developed, again, those shaped me into who I am as a person, as a player. My kids were born in Boston. I have great affection for the city, everything that Boston has meant for me and my family. All of New England. Not just Boston. I didn’t even know where New England was when I got picked by New England. That was always a funny story. They called me and said you’ve been picked by New England. I was like, that’s amazing, where’s New England? Then landed in Providence which really screwed me up because that’s not even in Massachusetts. It was a great 20 years.”

When Brady signed with the Bucs this offseason, it was unknown how it would work out. Tampa Bay was arguably a laughing stock of the NFL. They finished 7-9 in 2019 and 5-11 in 2018 and 2017. The team hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2007. The Bucs haven’t advanced past the wild-card round since 2002, which was the franchise’s only Super Bowl win.

Would Brady really leave the Patriots for a team with a pirate ship in their stadium?

At first, the Bucs’ plan to bring in Brady seemed like a pipe dream. At the 2020 NFL combine, Tampa Coach Bruce Arians was asked what quarterback he would call as soon as free agency started. He didn’t hesitate and said, “Tom Brady.” It seemed funny at the time. Then Brady signed a two-year deal with the Bucs and with a head coach whose motto is “No risk-it, no biscuit.”

“You can’t hit a home run if you’re not going to swing for one. You can’t do anything special in life sitting on the fence,” Arians said on Thursday. “The question back then was if there’s a quarterback who’s a free agent, who would you want? Yeah, of course it’s Tom Brady… That’s how you live life. You can sit in a closet and try to be safe or you can have some damn fun.”

As it turned out, the Bucs’ history didn’t factor into Brady’s decision. As the 2019 season waned on, the feeling was that Brady wanted out of New England. When he became a free agent, he focused on location, coaching and the roster. Tampa checked all the boxes. Brady wanted to stay on the east coach to be near his son Jack, who lived in New York. He saw the two Pro Bowl receivers on the roster (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin). On top of that, he hit it off with Arians.

“He’s a great man,” Brady said of his head coach. “He’s a great leader. He’s a great person. He’s a great friend. He’s very loyal. He just has a great way about communicating effectively with everybody around here. Everybody has a great affection for him for the person he is … Just love playing for him.”

Like his time in New England, Brady called this season in Tampa “magical.” It’s almost a perfect chapter in this Hall of Famer’s career. He left Bill Belichick, the Patriots and 20 years of history in New England in the rearview mirror and he’s back in the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of all teams.

“At the end of the day, I had the opportunity to become a free agent. I evaluated different opportunities and tried to make the best possible decision for myself and my family and chose Tampa,” Brady said. “It’s just been an amazing experience.”

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